SOTHEBY'S PLUNGES INTO BUREAUCRATIC WATERS Sotheby's went before the New York City Planning Commission on July 22 to seek permission to expand its headquarters at York Avenue and 72nd Street -- and ran into some heated objections from neighborhood residents. The hearing was dominated by traffic issues, as one citizen after another complained about pedestrian and vehicular congestion. "Sotheby's is a bad neighbor!" exclaimed one, while another read an affidavit alleging that her husband had died after traffic -- which she implied was caused by Sotheby's trucks -- had prevented him from getting to the hospital. Sotheby's $115-million project would add four floors to the six-floor building, housing four new salesrooms and featuring a 10-story atrium and a rooftop sculpture garden. Over 150 employees would be centralized in the new facility from four other locations. Sotheby's vp Karen Schuster tried to assure the commission that traffic would not increase.
HOUSE APPROVES NEA FUNDS
The U.S. House of Representatives has okayed a $98-million budget for the National Endowment for the Arts for 1999 by a vote of 253 to 173. Only last year the House voted 217-216 to wipe out NEA funding altogether. Pundits say conservatives consider the battle against NEA all but won, what with the recent Supreme Court decision approving the ban on support for sexually explicit art, the elimination of fellowships for artists and the appointment of country-music scholar William J. Ivey as NEA chairman. Further restrictions aimed at "the cultural elite" are in store, however: a special provision reduces the amount of NEA funding that can flow to New York grantees from a total of $5.4 million to $3.3 million. NEA now spends $17 million of its $98-million budget on administrative overhead -- over 17 percent of the total.
Debate on the House floor continued to offer a chance for conservative lawmakers to talk dirty. According to the New York Times, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham complained that NEA had funded a project that showed Santa Claus masturbating (Paul McCarthy in the Whitney Biennial?), while Pennsylvania Republican Joseph Pitts enthused that "NEA has misused taxpayer dollars with sickening attempts to subsidize blasphemous, offensive and pornographic depictions!"
CHRISTIE'S SUES ART COLLECTOR Christie's has filed suit against Toronto collector Charles Tabachnick accusing him of selling a fake work by Expressionist painter Alexej von Jawlensky, Spanish Woman with a Red Shawl (1912), at Christie's London in October 1994. The price, £540,000, set a world record for a painting by the Russian-born artist. A major player in the Fauve and Expressionist art market, Tabachnick has denied that the work is a phony, and taken his business to Sotheby's London instead.
MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ARTS REOPENS
The century-old Minneapolis Institute of Arts reopens Sept. 27, 1998, after a ten-year, $150-million revitalization that added 33 new galleries and 65 percent more exhibition space (over 46,000 square feet in all). The additions to the museum's 1915 McKim, Mead & White building features 22 new Asian art galleries, four new period rooms (including a Chinese scholar's study and a section of Frank Lloyd Wright's Francis Little residence) and 20 interactive touchscreen video kiosks developed by the museum's own technology department and installed throughout the galleries. Admission is free since 1989, thanks to museum director Evan Maurer's drive to increase attendance.
The Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., has appointed Sarah Cash as the first Bechhoefer curator of American art. The post is endowed by long-time Corcoran patrons Estelle and Bernhard Bechhoefer. Cash has been director of the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph-Macon Women's College in Lynchburg, Va.
NEW FOLK AT MOIFA
The Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe unveils selections from the 2,500 piece folk art collection given to the museum by Lloyd Cotsen and the Neutrogena Corporation, of which Cotsen is former CEO. The museum built a 8,775-square-foot Neutrogena Wing to house the collection. Highlights from the collection include ancient Coptic Egyptian textiles, 19th century Navajo weavings and a straw-decorated miniature box from the British Isles.
CHRISTIAN COALITION TAKES NEA DOUGH
Last week, as Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition called for elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts due to its support of "offensive, blasphemous material against God," it was discovered that the School of Communications and the Arts at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., at which Pat Robertson is chancellor, received a $1,000 grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts for the completion of a film called Pavel's Chariot. The Virginia arts agency receives funds from NEA. A university spokesman said Robertson had no knowledge of the grant but has requested that the school return the money.
ALTE PINAKOTHEK REOPENS
The Alte Pinakothek in Munich reopens on July 23 after a four-year, $41.7-million renovation that included new air conditioning and glass to protect its Old Master paintings from vandals.
BURNS TAKES ELDREDGE PRIZE
Indiana University professor Sarah Burns has won this year's $2,000 Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Inventing the Modern Artist: Art & Culture in Gilded Age America. The price is awarded by the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution.
MONEY FOR SAN JOSE MUSEUM
The San Jose Museum of Art, in search of $10 million for its endowment, has received $1.2 million from the Gibson Foundation, $500,000 from the Oshman Family Foundation and $250,000 from the Compton Foundation.
NEW HENRY GALLERY CURATOR
Former Museum of Modern Art exhibition coordinator and research assistant Thomas Collins has been appointed associate curator at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle.
TIMES SHOWCASES OPPENHEIMER
The New York Times recently gave a photo showcase to the installation of a new public art work by David Oppenheimer on a traffic island near the Flatiron Building at 23rd Street and Broadway. The sculpture consists of two engagement-ring-like forms, measuring 27 and 30 feet high, with houses where the diamonds would be. Artist Dennis Oppenheim, the actual maker of the work, was understanding about the Times typo. "The photographer was an elderly gent," the big O allegedly said, "and looked like he would collapse from the heat."
LIVET REICHARD MOVES
The world famous PR firm Livet Reichard, headed by powerhouse flack Anne Livet, is moving from Tribeca to ArtNet's neighborhood, the Financial District. Look for their new offices on the 7th floor of 50 Pine Street.
MARKETING FOR THE ARTS American Express has given $1.5 million to the Arts & Business Council for a National Arts Marketing Project designed to help over 1,000 nonprofit arts organizations strengthen their marketing skills. The project includes marketing workshops, audience-development seminars and a web site (due up in August).